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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial For Vagrants [Today's News Poem, May 31, 2010]

Memorial For Vagrants [Today's News Poem, May 31, 2010]

The windows are shattered. The vagrants are haunted:
They're stray silhouettes in the alleys, betraying
The layers of darkness that linger this graveyard
Of wealth. And the playgrounds were filled with the children
Of workers. And now they are filled with the lurkers
And drunkards: their stories, too scary for movies.
The living? Who honors the living? Who follows
The losers not planted with markers and statues?
Who builds a memorial, praising the triumphs,
Or mourns for the losses a slide or a window
That carried the children with sand in their footwear
From heights to the depths. And the gardens were smiling,
The plum trees were fragrant. The rosemary blossomed.
The sidewalk was even. It carried the tiny
And precious embodiments love and compassion
Can cultivate. Grown and he's desperate for money—
For anything. Pushing a cart with his blanket,
With photos of happier memories: fading
And lacking memorial—save for the spirits
Of children who played once with sand and now needles,
On playgrounds forgotten—he notices something.
A sign from the city. It's closing. They're fixing
The structures. They'll clean up the shards in the sandbox.
A sign in the weeds says “For sale by foreclosure,”
In front of the house where the windows are broken.

“Black middle-class neighborhoods are hollowed out, with prices plummeting and homes standing vacant in places like Orange Mound, White Haven and Cordova. As job losses mount — black unemployment here, mirroring national trends, has risen to 16.9 percent from 9 percent two years ago; it stands at 5.3 percent for whites — many blacks speak of draining savings and retirement accounts in an effort to hold onto their homes. The overall local foreclosure rate is roughly twice the national average.”
– Michael Powell, The New York Times, May 30, 2010
“Yet for this young interrogator detachment was not ultimately a viable solution: “I know I am the same person who was doing those things. And that’s what tears at your soul.””
– Nancy Sherman, Opinionator, The New York Times, May 30, 2010
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